Everyone is Invited
In Louisville, Derby season is an incredibly exciting time of year.
In case some of you are unaware, the Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race in the world and is run the first Saturday in May. People travel from all over the world to attend. It a time for our city to shine.
For us, Derby is the true indication that spring is here. It hallmarks the transition from cold and dead and to green and alive. From morning frost to shorts and flip flops. From staying hidden away indoors to getting out and having a good time.
It is also a time to celebrate.
Exclusivity Breeds Competition
During the week before Derby, the city is filled with parties of all sorts. Some of these parties are very high-profile, filled with celebrities and the affluent.
Most of them are exclusive. People fly in from all over the country and the world to attend. You have to be somebody in order to be invited. The harder it is to get in, the bigger the attraction.
I can only imagine what happens in these types of parties. If getting in is difficult, if obtaining an invite is a popularity contest, then my best guess is that they revolve around competition.
Who is the most popular?
Who has the best toys?
Who has the best looking date?
Who makes the most money?
Who most deserves to have been invited?
Whose popularity is soon to fade?
A worthless competition that leads to nothing and only promotes the self.
Why do We Exclude?
This type of behavior isn’t limited to the rich and famous. All of us demonstrate behaviors of exclusivity.
If we exclude others then it makes us feel better by giving us a feeling of superiority. Only those who have done as well as us are invited. Only those who have attained a high level of knowledge can join us. Only those who meet our standard are welcome.
But exclusivity is typically the result of fear mixed with insecurity. It is a fear of those who are different. It is a fear of being wrong. It is a fear of not being significant.
We exclude those who disagree with us.
We exclude those of a different political party.
We exclude those of a different faith.
We exclude those of the same faith but different beliefs.
We exclude those of a different sexual orientation.
We exclude the opposite gender.
When we choose exclusion we have to figure out how to keep those people out. We build walls. We point our fingers. We criticize and judge. We send invitations to only a select few.
Often we exclude because we don’t want to change. If others are wrong, then we can justify remaining as we are. We exclude because we are afraid we might find out something true about ourselves.
It is easier to exclude and remain as we are than to see something new and become what we should be. (Tweet that.)
We have our own party, hidden away inside. We keep some out, grateful that we aren’t like them. And we celebrate ourselves.
The Inferiority of Superiority
On my trip to Uganda with Bob Goff, I learned a better way to party. Everywhere we traveled, he recited one recurring theme for our trip:
Everyone is Invited.
This open invitation resembles the gospel. It doesn’t leave anyone out. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t where you have been. It doesn’t matter what you believe. It doesn’t what you have done, either good or bad.
When everyone is invited, we no longer have to compete. We can stop comparing. We can stop manipulating. We can stop watching our own back. We can stop pointing our fingers. We can stop being afraid of others.
And we can start being friends.
Friends care about each other instead of being afraid. Friends offer a helping hand instead of competing. Friend approach with open arms instead of shutting doors.
When the newspaper shows pictures from the exclusive parties this May after Derby I won’t be jealous. From now on I plan on attending the type of party that everyone is invited to.
Have you ever been excluded? Have you ever excluded someone else?
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